Piotrków Trybunalski Ghetto


About thirty kilometres south of Lodz is the city of Piotrkow Trybunalski and before the war there were about 18,000 Jews living in the city. The city was occupied as early as September 5, 1939, and the Jews immediately began to be persecuted by the nazis. About 2,000 Jews managed to escape to the Soviet-occupied part of Poland. On October 8, the German civil administrator, Oberbürgermeister, ordered Hans Drexel to establish a ghetto for the remaining Jews, about 28,000 Jews were forced to settle in a part of the city where it previously lived between 5,000 – 6,000 people.

The reason why the number of Jews had risen significantly was because Jews from nearby areas had been moved to the city. The ghetto was the first that the Nazis established in occupied Eastern Europe and was thus unique. When the ghetto was cut off from the rest of the city on October 28, residents could only leave with special permission and enter the ghetto. Those who received permits were most often exploited as slave laborers for work outside the ghetto.

Conditions in the ghetto were harsh, cramped living spaces, inadequate sanitary facilities, lack of supplies, lack of medicines led to diseases and other mishaps, not infrequently with fatal outcome. On October 13, 1942, the nazis began dismantling the ghetto and within a week about 20,000 Jews had been deported to Treblinka where they were murdered. About 500 Jews managed to escape while about 2,000 Jews were allowed to stay because they were needed as slave workers.

These were housed in a smaller ghetto, but regular executions occurred and these were carried out, among other things, in a nearby forest area called Rakowi and at the Jewish cemetery. The small ghetto was dismantled in July 1943 and the remaining Jews were deported to labour camps. Of the approximately 28,000 Jews who sat in the ghetto, about 1,500 survived the war, having survived by being moved to other places or having managed to escape and kept themselves hidden.

Current status: Partly preserved/demolished with monument (2013).

Address: Stary rynek, Piotrków Trybunalski.

Get there: Car.

My comment:

Although the ghetto was the first the Nazis established, it falls into the shadow of the larger and more well-known ghettos such as Warsaw, Krakow and Lodz. It is scarcely mentioned more than the fact that it was the first ghetto. 

Follow up in books: Gilberg, Martin: Holocaust: A History of the Jews of Europe During the Second World War (1987).